Though barely larger than an actual fox hole, Foxhole Public House serves up innovative and modern cuisine with a cocktail menu that shines on its own. This place is pioneering next-level pub fare that’s interesting, flavorful and paired with a fun and trendy ambiance that epitomizes Downtown Bentonville.
Located just off the Bentonville Square on SW A Street, Foxhole is a refreshing update to the traditional “Pub” model. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and after hours, flavor-seekers are guaranteed to find something bold every hour of the day. The atmosphere is bright, friendly and almost intimidatingly hip. The vibe is friendly though, resulting from a combination of pleasantly chatty bar patrons and more dedicated diners. Though the clientele varies in ages, it skews young professional. There are people ending the day with a cup of coffee and pastry, and people starting the night with a cocktail and a salty snack.
Traditionally, a pub, or public house, is a place where people of any age can gather for food and drink throughout the day. I decided to try one of their signature cocktails and two Korean Barbecue Steam Buns. These succulent concoctions combine a floury sweet roll, the kind that leaves a fine white residue that sticks to your fingers, with savory Korean barbecue—marinated shiitake mushrooms (or beef for the carnivores). The roll is delightfully flaky and sweet, a perfect contrast to the tangy, sticky mushrooms that make this flavor-forward, hand-held entree really shine. These little rolls are something like the love child of fresh banh-mi and a really good food truck taco. Each about the size of my fist, the steam buns are the perfect accomplice to many a cocktail and perfect, lighter pub food.
The bar is well stocked, and I’d be tempted to test the depth of their wells as well as the promising list of local brews on tap as well. The tattooed and mustachioed bartenders are expert mixologists, familiar with their alcoholic arsenal and borderline performative in their craft. They offer plenty of advice on dinner and drink pairings. My cocktail, an herbal, yet sweet, Lavender Paloma, when prepared, seemed to combine myriad mysterious ingredients and entail several aggressive rounds of shaking and stirring before being finally reduced down to a neat, champagne-style glass. Labor intensive, yet undeniably delicious.
Foxhole serves their meals food-truck style, meaning they aren’t prepared in-house, but rather are ferried from Oven & Tap’s famous wood-fired ovens with chef Luke Wetzel’s famous, artisanal flair, then assembled to each diner’s specifications. Oven & Tap is another Bentonville cornerstone that specializes in the upscale and innovative Neo-southern cuisine that typifies the best up-and-coming restaurants in northwest Arkansas, turning out excellent dishes like Ricotta Doughnuts and Lamb Ragu with Grits. The combination of traditional southern flavors with curious and exciting ingredients make for a fusion of flavor that is simultaneously homey and exotic. The food is delicious and its preparation is instantaneous, which was fortunate considering the relative strength of my pre-dinner cocktail. I attempt to revive myself from a post-dinner coma with a strong cup of black coffee, Onyx Coffee Lab’s classic tangy-sweet Sugarskull blend that is roasted locally and ground fresh by Foxhole.
The price is exactly what you’d expect from the cool new restaurant in downtown Bentonville, though the earnest authenticity behind the establishment makes the cost well worth it.
True to the original idea of a public house, Foxhole is versatile, welcoming and undeniably cool. Foxhole could be a great place to start or end the day, and also functions as a one-stop shop for more intrepid diners willing to sample their way through the food and drink menu. Friendly and staff, a bright interior, great food and a well-stocked bar make for an excellent stop morning and night alike.